(2017-12-25) The Upside Of Theretail Apocalypse

The Upside of the 'Retail Apocalypse' The old Highland Mall in East Austin, Texas, is now occupied by Austin Community College, which built a high-tech math lab on the second floor of a former J.C. Penney and is building student housing in the parking lots. With a new light-rail stop, the area is becoming a hub for local employers.

Educational and healthcare facilities, two land use types that are growing as retail shrinks, are a logical fit for these large, boxy spaces. The former Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch, Tennessee, was redeveloped as a satellite campus of Nashville State Community College as well as a practice rink for Nashville’s pro hockey team.

Brick-and-mortar retail is not going away. Even as it sheds workers, the sector is still growing at a rate of 3 percent per year.

Some of the most ambitious mall redevelopments are becoming mixed-use neighborhoods. The Villa Italia Mall in Lakewood, Colorado, outside Denver, was almost completely demolished to make way for a new street grid lined with offices, arts facilities, parks, and residences, as well as new stores.

The “retail apocalypse” affords a unique opportunity to turn retail stores and malls into more productive community spaces.

In late October of this year, the office-sharing startup WeWork announced that it was buying Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in New York City

Ellen Dunham-Jones of Georgia Tech is perhaps the world’s leading expert on the redevelopment of old suburban malls, and is co-author, with June Williamson of the City University of New York, of the landmark book Retrofitting Suburbia and a recent article on re-inhabited malls in the journal They have put together a database of more than 1,500 retrofits or redevelopments of abandoned shopping malls, strip centers, big-box stores, and other similar developments across the United States.


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